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31

Ai Jing

I Love Color #11

signed, titled and dated 'aijing "I Love COLOR #11" 2015' on the reverse
197 x 197 cm (77 1/2 x 77 1/2 in.)
oil on canvas
Painted in 2015.

Estimate
£80,000 - 120,000 ‡

sold for £87,500

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 hhighley@phillips.com

  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Milan, Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Dialogues, 5 June - 5 September 2015, pp. 112 - 113 (exhibited and illustrated)

  • Literature

    Ai Jing, Ai Jing. Love Art: 2007 - 2017, Beijing, 2017, p. 126 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘In my paintings, I started inserting the “love” symbol in my series, transforming the previous conceptual language to the more painterly language. It is a process of craftsmanship: every day and each day, I layered a new colour on the previous one. The colours recycled and replaced themselves on the canvas, and they each left marks on the canvas in their own ways and developed new aesthetic relations through these marks.’ (Ai Jing, ‘Walking in the Sun’ in Dialogues, exh. cat., Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, 2015, p. 39).

    Adeptly interwoven and pulsating with raw shades of scarlet and deep crimson, warm tones of orange mingle with highlights of yellow, the symphonic visual amalgamation in I Love Color #11 forces the viewer to oscillate between feelings of sublime harmony and passion. Having already established herself as a leading figure in Chinese music, Ai Jing’s artistic prowess has led to her celebration as an contemporary visual artist on an international platform. Her paintings possess a harmonious quality as seen through the lyricism and energetic pulse of the brushstrokes in I Love Color #11. While the chromaticity of the patchwork is visible in other works from this series, the present work distinguishes itself as particularly arresting through the connotations of the carefully considered choice of a red colour palette. Red is considered lucky in Chinese culture, representing joy and fortune. However, it is also the colour of the Chinese government emblematising bureaucracy, public uniformity and the party regime. The present work is exemplary of Ai’s technique of weaving the canvas with varying threads of emphatic meaning, which visually enrich the painting and provoke deep-seated and stirring evocations in the viewer.

    With a surface modelled from an impressive use of impasto and thick layering of paint I Love Color #11 possesses an almost sculptural and three dimensional quality. The word love forces its way into the viewer’s space presenting the concept of love as a three-dimensional object to highlight the physicality of the piece: ‘In my paintings, I started inserting the “love” symbol in my series, transforming the previous conceptual language to the more painterly language. It is a process of craftsmanship: every day and each day, I layered a new color on the previous one. The colors recycled and replaced themselves on the canvas, and they each left marks on the canvas in their own ways and developed new aesthetic relations through these marks.’ (Ai Jing, ‘Walking in the Sun’ in Dialogues, exh. cat., Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, 2015, p. 39). Despite the impasto, the softly coalescing colours and formal variations create an atmosphere of weightlessness culminating in a harmonious climax. The complex layering of paint and colours allows “love” to float freely between foreground and background, frequently reappearing like the refrain to a song. As “love” tauntingly stretches towards us, it concurrently recedes into the background. The viewer’s eye follows “love” through the textures of paint resembling the lilting rhythms of a musical composition.
    After the Chinese government banned her single ‘Made in China’ Ai moved to New York where she began producing her Love paintings. Through her universal subject matter Ai inspires inclusivity in her audience, bridging the gap between East and West. The positive unity evoked by shared experience that radiates from her work is articulated by Benjamin Genocchio: ‘The beauty and in a word, love, that flows from her paintings brings people together. In this way they are radically hopeful.’ (Benjamin Genocchio, ‘Aijing and the Delicate Art of Sharing’ in LOVE AIJING, exh. cat., Marlborough Gallery, New York, 2016). This inclusivity connects the present work with Robert Indiana, whose artworks explore the personal and subjective idea of love formulated as a public artwork. Ai has commented upon Indiana’s influence which inspired her to forge her own artistic pathway: ‘Keith Haring and Robert Indiana are the most well­known artists associated with this word. However, I believed that I would find my own way.’ (Ai Jing, quoted in Chen Nan, ‘From Songs to Canvas’, China Daily, 6 - 7 May 2017, online).

    I Love Color #11 interweaves the contemporary with poignant art historical references through experimentation with colour and form. Combined with a focus upon repetition and invoking a playful pattern of dynamism to thematically reflect upon notions of language and love, Ai aligns her practice with the tapestries of Alighieri Boetti, a form of craftsmanship Ai herself has explored. The exploration of text as forms embodied in the present work also echoes Jasper Johns’ masterpiece Number in Color, 1958 - 1959 (Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo), through the collaged and stencilled words and numbers. Like Johns, Ai’s artwork seeks to portray, through the medium of paint, a fascination with light, colour and language that has dominated her artistic oeuvre. The variation of style and execution in the works from her Love series allow Ai to revisit and rework the concept of Love almost obsessively, culminating in a reflection upon the human condition and its potential for the cyclical and eternal nature of love.

31

Ai Jing

I Love Color #11

signed, titled and dated 'aijing "I Love COLOR #11" 2015' on the reverse
197 x 197 cm (77 1/2 x 77 1/2 in.)
oil on canvas
Painted in 2015.

Estimate
£80,000 - 120,000 ‡

sold for £87,500

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 hhighley@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 6 October 2017

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